EU teams leave strong impression in first EMEA Challengers Playoffs matches

posted by SmittyW.,
EU's four representatives have survived their first group stage matches. Turkey's favourite Futbolist have already been eliminated. The first weekend of the EMEA Challengers Playoffs has concluded. The first set of group stage matches that was played from Friday until Sunday saw the teams from EU winning. Team Liquid, Fnatic, FunPlus Phoenix and Guild Esports all emerged victorious from their first matches against teams from TR and CIS respectively. While FPX and Team Liquid will determine the first semifinalist in Group A, Guild Esports will meet an impressive-looking Fnatic for a spot in the round-of-four Thursday.

FPX meet Gambit on eye level

The first match of the tournament was between EU's arguably strongest team FPX, and CIS representative Gambit Esports. The Russians posed a severe threat to captain Kirill "ANGE1" Karasiow and his team on Gambit's map pick Icebox. Being 4-8 behind after the first 12 rounds, FPX found themselves in a really uncomfortable position. Still, changing to the attacker side gave the winners of EU Main Event 1 a boost and they began to stage a comeback. Both Pontus "Zyppan" Eek and Dmitriy "dimasick" Matvienko went for Gambit's players, hunting them down mercilessly. In the end FPX prevailed 13-11.

On Split, FPX and Gambit seemed to be at the same level once more. Until switching sides, the teams traded rounds equally. But it was once more the attacker side which benefitted FPX' playstyle. The international squad enhanced their grasp of the series with each passing round. In the end, they claimed another victory 13-9.

BBL scare ScreaM's Team Liquid

Before the Playoffs, there was no telling how much difference in skill there was between TR and EU teams. The first map of the match between BBL Esports and Team Liquid on Haven was therefore a strong statement in favour of Turkish VALORANT: BBL overwhelmed Team Liquid early on. Especially Jett player Batuhan "russ" Malgaç was far too much to handle for the Europeans. With 33 frags, he scored almost as many times as Liquid's best players, James "Kryptix" Affleck and superstar Adil "ScreaM" Benrlitom. BBL won the map 13-6.

As strong as BBL looked on map one, they were not able to repeat this feat for the rest of the series. Both on Ascent and Bind, Team Liquid managed to turn the tides in their favour after relatively balanced first halves. Even BBL's secret weapon russ, who netted 81 kills in the end, couldn't stop the combined power of both ScreaM and Kryptix. Liquid flipped the series 2-1 and BBL dropped to the elimination match.

Derke destroys OXG, Guild surprises with Yoru pick

When we asked Fnatic's James "Mistic" Orfila about the best player in EMEA, the Briton was full of praise for teammate Nikita "Derke" Sirmitev. The Finnish prodigy proved Mistic right in the first match against BBL: he obliterated his enemies with flashy plays on his Battle Sage and Jett on both maps, outshining BBL's top fragger Erdem "toronto" Sogukpinar by 20 frags, totalling 53. If Fnatic were not among the favourites before the tournament, they've surely now proven why they should be considered one of the strongest teams on the bill.

In the second match of the day, Guild Esports met Turkey's most dominant team Futbolist. But right off the bat, Guild found a way to stop Futbolist from assuming control, refusing to let the brilliant individual Turkish players shine. Surprisingly, William "draken" Sundin went for Yoru on map one, Haven, with whom he created much space for his teammates and scored quite a few entry kills. On top of their superior tactical play, Guild's Yacine "Yacine" Laghmari and Leo "Leo" Jannesson played out of their minds. With 13-6 and 13-9, the Swede's victories were clear.

TR's favourites eliminated

As the EU fans had a lot to celebrate after the first days of the Playoffs, Turkey's VALORANT community was in shock after the first elimination matches of the group stage. In the first one, BBL Esports, who displayed a solid 1-2 performance against Team Liquid in their first match, were outclassed by CIS champion Gambit Esports. The Russian team surrounding captain Igor "Redgar" Vlasov completely outplayed their opponents on Ascent 13-3. They continued with a less dominant but just as clear victory on Icebox, finishing 13-7. The CIS team played with a decisive game plan to which BBL had no answer.

In Group B, Oxygen Esports and Futbolist met in the first elimination match of the group – an all-Turkish match which was destined to break the hearts of the fans from that territory one way or another. Previously, the teams met in the finals of TR Main Event 1, where Futbolist prevailed 3-0 but only by a small margin on all three maps. Although Futbolist was the favoured team on paper, Oxygen showed no fear when taking on their rivals. With 13-8 on Split and 13-10 on Haven, OXG concluded the series in a surprisingly clear fashion. The team around MVP Göktuğ "XiSTOU" Canciğer is now the only remaining team from TR. To advance to the semifinals, they have to beat either Guild Esports or Fnatic on Friday – both of whom have already beaten the Turkish teams convincingly.

Group AGroup B
FunPlus PhoenixFnatic
Team LiquidGuild Esports
Gambit EsportsOxygen Esports
BBL Esports (eliminated)Futbolist (eliminated)

Prize pool & Circuit Points

1st€32,500Masters Reykjavík
2nd€15,000Masters Reykjavík

EMEA Challengers Playoffs Schedule

RoundBroadcast start
30 April: Group A
30 April: Group B
1 May: Semifinal, M 1 & 2
2 May: Grand Final

Watch the streams live on Twitch in your language:


UB = Upper Bracket
LB = Lower Bracket
R = Round
M = Match

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Photo credit: Riot Games